Sunday, December 31, 2017

China is Building 2 Molten Salt Thorium Reactors

The cash is to develop two “molten salt” reactors in the Gobi Desert in northern China. 
Researchers hope that if they can solve a number of technical problems the reactors will lead to a range of applications, including nuclear-powered warships and drones.
The technology, in theory, can create more heat and power than existing forms of nuclear reactors that use uranium, while producing only one thousandth of the radioactive waste. 
It also has the advantage for China of using thorium as its main fuel. China has some of the world’s largest reserves of the metal.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stealth Saga #70


The F-35 hater team is now hating on the Su-57.

The Su-57 will start production in 2018 (supposedly) with 12 'pre-production' aircraft delivered in 2019.

The Su-57 is making progress on the engine and other development milestones, but concerns remain.

"New" Russian VTOL Fighter:

Russia claims it is working on the replacement of the MiG-29 and Su-33 with a VTOL fighter.  That would mean the LMFS is definitely dead instead of almost certainly.

J-20 & J-31:

A report on the J-20 updates the capabilities.

A report states future Chinese aircraft carriers will have the two 5th gen fighters aboard.


Turkey has released the technical specifications on the TF-X.


The Brits are testing out a drone without control surfaces.  Instead, it uses airflow to control direction.

Tornado Replacement:

The Luftwaffe might prefer the F-35, but the German MoD prefers the Eurofighter.

CF-18 Replacement:

Canada is starting its replacement procurement for the CF-18.  The F-35 might be a contender.

Sixth Generation Fighter:

Directed energy weapons are finally gearing up for deployment.


The Russians are claiming an F-22 interfered with an attack run by Su-25s but was "chased away" by an Su-35.

Could the reason the Su-35s and F-22s be shadow boxing is because both sides are trying to gather intel on the other's capabilities?

An F-22 damaged during touch and goes six years ago will be fixed soon.

UTC received an almost seven billion dollar contract for maintaining the F119 engines on the F-22.


The F-35 is going to get a deep dive review on its costs.

66 F-35s were delivered this year.

Is there a change coming for testing on the F-35s?

F-35 weapon accuracy testing is complete.

The USAF claims to no longer need its A-10 maintenance crews to work on the F-35A.

The 115th and 187th Air National Guard Fighter Wings are getting upgraded to the F-35A.

F-35C aviators qualified on the Lincoln.

Britain is not happy about the lack of transparency for the F-35 program.

More on Israel's declaration of the F-35I being operational.

Poland has launched its Harpia fighter procurement and the F-35 is a contender.

Russian military observers went to Norway's base where its first F-35s are.

South Korea is reportedly buying 20 more F-35s.


F/A-18s spotted an unknown aircraft and tracked it on their FLIR.

Fictional Aircraft:

A real US Naval Academy professor did a presentation on the stealthiness of cinematic version of the fictional MiG-31 Firefox.

Friday, December 29, 2017

NASA Evaluating Placing Deep Space Gateway Propulsion Module on EM-2 SLS Launch

While NASA engages spacecraft industry help in studying concepts for design, development, test, and evaluation of the Power Propulsion Element (PPE), it is also studying where the anchor component of the proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG) would orbit the Moon and how it would get there when launched as a part of Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2).

Sunday, December 24, 2017

How the US Says Russia Violated the INF Treaty

The word is that U.S. administration has finally identified the cruise missile that it suspects to violate the INF Treaty. In his remarks at the Wilson Center, Christopher Ford of the National Security Council said that the missile is known in Russia as 9M729. This was the first time the Russian name of the missile, designated in the United States as SSC-8, was announced officially. But, of course, someone leaked it to Jeffrey Lewis back in 2015, so it's not really news. I had my doubts about the 9M729 theory, but if that's what the U.S. administration builds its claim on, I am not in a position to argue.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Pondering the Precambrian #7



The Tarim Craton may have been connected to the North India Block rather than Australia within the supercontinent of Rodinia during the Tonian.

Has evidence of mountain building during the Tonian been found in Scotland?

The Tonian/Cryogenian transition seems to have been located in Svalbard.

How complete is the evidence of glaciations during the Cryogenian in Scotland?

How oxygenated was the ocean between the Snowball Earth episodes?

Caution with carbon-13 shifts are urged in Cryogenian deposits as they are deposit dependent.

Evidence of hydrothermal modification of a dolostone during the Marinoan Glaciations.

Was there a delayed oxygenation of the oceans from the Cryogenian to the Ediacaran?

Evidence from Mongolia's 540 million year old Khesen formation documents the rise of animals.

Evidence that Ediacaran Parvancorina was motile and could sense benthic currents.

Were there constant anoxic bottom waters during the Ediacaran?

Cyanobacterial-algal crusts have been found from Ediacaran paleosols.


Cyanobacterial microfossils are examined from Calymmian China.

Were tellurium and selenium weathered from sandstones into the Mesoproterozoic oceans?


Biosignatures have been found for eukaryotes from Statherian China.

There is evidence of an impact in India during the Siderian.

Was there a subduction cessation during the Siderian in China?

More evidence of warm subduction during the Orosirian from Cameroon.

Was the Great Oxygenation Event really an abiotic process?!

There appears to have been gradual oxygenation in the oceans (in some cases) just prior to the GOE.

A large igneous province is detected from India from the Rhyacian.

Was the early biosphere nutrient limited?


Evidence from China, specifically the North China Craton, about the composition of NeoArchean sea water.

Inland lakes appear to have fostered the diversification of microbial life during the MesoArchean.

The oldest known paleosols (fossil soil) date from the PaleoArchean (3.46 billion years ago) and originate in Australia and may have formed from sulfuric acid weathering.

Could there be a problem with the cherts being used from the PaleoArchean to claim microbial life?

Or is there a definitive example of fossil life from the PaleoArchean?  Does that mean life is common in the universe?

Is some of Earth's magma ocean preserved in PaleoArchean rock?


Exploring the Precambrian lithosphere of Zambia and Malawi.

The effect of paleoseawater chemistry on hydrothermal ridges.

Origin of Life:

The origin and diversification of the endosymbiont known as the mitochondria.

A new lineage of eukaryotes has given information on mitochondrial genome reduction.

Friday, December 22, 2017

WISE & NEOWISE Cannot Find Planet Nine

A 3pi Search for Planet Nine at 3.4 microns with WISE and NEOWISE


Meisner et al

The recent 'Planet Nine' hypothesis has led to many observational and archival searches for this giant planet proposed to orbit the Sun at hundreds of astronomical units. While trans-Neptunian object searches are typically conducted in the optical, models suggest Planet Nine could be self-luminous and potentially bright enough at ~3-5 microns to be detected by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). We have previously demonstrated a Planet Nine search methodology based on time-resolved WISE coadds, allowing us to detect moving objects much fainter than would be possible using single-frame extractions. In the present work, we extend our 3.4 micron (W1) search to cover more than three quarters of the sky and incorporate four years of WISE observations spanning a seven year time period. This represents the deepest and widest-area WISE search for Planet Nine to date. We characterize the spatial variation of our survey's sensitivity and rule out the presence of Planet Nine in the parameter space searched at W1 less than 16.7 in high Galactic latitude regions (90% completeness).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Coinbase was Supporting Bitcoin Cash

We’re excited to announce that customers will be able to buy, sell, send and receive Bitcoin Cash on Coinbase. You can read more about Bitcoin Cash on our FAQ page.

Sends and receives are available immediately. Buys and sells will be available to all customers once there is sufficient liquidity on GDAX. We anticipate that this will take a few hours.


But not anymore.: insider trading by their own employees appears have been responsible.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Has Russia Given up on Developing a Rail Based Nuclear Missile?

A news article published on Russian government daily newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Dec. 2 says Moscow has given up on the development of a rail-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).


So it seems.

But then, this isn't the first time the rail based nuclear weapons have been canceled.  And revived.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Terminator Times #39

Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/UAVs):

The US Air Force is incorporating the laser guided small diameter bomb on its Reapers.

Two dozen Reapers are being sent to be based in Florida.

Niger approved armed US drones in its country.  Some think this is a bad idea.

The US Army along with the British demonstrated unmanned resupply capabilities using UGVs & UAVs.

The USMC is testing the potential of unmanned gliders delivering up to 700 lbs of supplies to troops.

The USN will only initially buy 4 MQ-25A tanker drones to see if the contractor can meet the requirements.  That contractor might be selected by the end of this coming summer.

The USN is looking at plugging in its ground based control system for the MQ-25A into the carriers.

The USN has taken delivery of its first Northrop MQ-4C Triton.

The USN is going through the final testing of the FireScout this spring before declaring initial operating capability.

The USN will use the FireScout as a forward spotter, amongst other roles.

A Reaper was used in a sub hunting (ASW) exercise.

China's AVIC demonstrated some impressively flexible UAVs but they (currently) have short endurance.

China has been testing VTOL UAVs in Tibet.

China has shown its Cloud Shadow UAV as a potential naval strike asset.

China's Beihang has shown off its TYW-1 strike capable UAV.

China claims an Indian drone violated its airspace and crashed.

Czech's will be buying ScanEagle UAVs.

India has extended the deadline for bids on the naval UAV system procurement.

India's army has issued an RFI for 60 short range UAVs.

Kuwait is seeking UAVs.

Turkey's special forces have received their first batch of loitering munitions.

Airbus has teamed up with Facebook on high altitude drones.

Antonov has demonstrated a new UAV, the Horlytsia.

Bell is considering whether or not to make the V-280 tilt rotor able to fly autonomously.

Elbit has expanded the Hermes UAV system with the Hermes 45.

General Atomics and Intelsat demonstrated a UAV moving from one satellite radio spot to another.

Lockheed is looking at extending the range of its Fury UAV.

Leonardo is showing off the Evo Falco UAV.
Skeldar has enhanced the R-350 VTOL drone.

Teal predicts $100 billion market (or is it $80 billion?) for drones & UCAVs.

Bolos & Ogres (Unmanned Ground Vehicles):

The US Army is looking at the Remote Combat Vehicle program: a mix of manned and unmanned vehicles with the punch of an M-1 Abrams.

Robo Subs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles):

US Navy's unmanned assets were being used in the hunt for the missing Argentine submarine.

US Navy sent its deep dive recovery UUV for the hunt.

US Navy is implementing a continual improvement program for UUV.

A Houston based company is attempting to build a UUV designed for deep dives without an umbilical.


The US military is testing exoskeletons to help US troops carry their heavy loads.

Counter Drone:

China has tested a laser based anti drone weapon system.

BAe has been given a contract to modify shipborne machine guns to be anti drone weapons.


Russia has made it plain it will NOT adhere to any treaty banning autonomous weapon systems.

Friday, December 15, 2017

India Preparing for March 2018 Chandrayaan-2 Lunar Mission

The launch of the next Moon mission could be just four months away. India plans to return to the Moon in a big way with the ambitious Chandrayaan-2, which includes an orbiter, lander, and a small rover. If it all succeeds, it will be India's first soft landing on another world, and only the second such landing since the end of the Apollo and Luna era. For India, landing success would be "a stepping stone for future exploration missions to other planets," according to Indian Space Research Organisation Satellite Centre (ISAC) director M. Annadurai.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Europe Wants its own X-37B, called the Space Rider

Space Rider is a re-entry vehicle, the evolution of the IXV (Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, launched by Vega in February 2015), capable of ‘navigating’ up to 2 months in low Earth orbit before returning to earth. Re-entry enables the recovery of all the useful load that can be analysed, and the vehicle to be reused for a new mission. The contract signed by ESA with Avio and TAS-I (Thales Alenia Space Italia) is worth a total of €36.7 million for the development of the Space Rider system, consisting of two modules: AOM (Avum Orbital Module) and RM (Re-entry Module). Avio will handle the development of AOM, a specific version of AVUM (fourth stage of the VEGA C) capable of supplying power and services for controlling the vehicle’s re-entry attitude during the orbital stage.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Stealth Saga #69

Have Blue & Tacit Blue:

A test pilot that flew both the Tacit Blue and Have Blue prototypes recounts his experiences.


Japan will conclude the X-2 program in March 2018.  The RCS was better than expected and all the data required was gathered in 34 flights.  What the path forward for the F-3 program will be will be based on the evaluation of the X-2 data brings to light.  Two options being considered are building a fighter indigenously or with a foreign partner.


Is the FC-31 being used to help


The Russians are trying to convince the Indians to not abandon the Su-57 derivative for India's first stealth aircraft.


A Su-57 prototype flew with the new engine for around 17 minutes.

Is the Su-57 program toast though?  Some think so.


Is the construction at Area 51 related to the B-21 Raider?


The B-2 Spirit might be deployed to South Korea for exercises.

The B-2 is getting a new GPS receiver.


Six F-22s arrived in South Korea for exercises.

Watch an F-22 hunt and kill an A-4 in an exercise.

An F-22 can actually save fuel by flying faster.  


US DOD gave Pratt & Whitney a $351 million contract for logistics and maintenance on the F135 engine.

South Korean media are reporting USAF F-35As deployed to the Korean Peninsula right after the F-22s.  They are both participating in exercises with South Korea.

Does the US Navy actually think the F-35C is important to the carrier air wing?

Some are STILL angry over the F-35 program.

Lockheed certified various weapons for the F-35.

Lockheed is touting the synthetic training capabilities of the F-35.

The F-35 is undergoing cold weather testing in Alaska.

Israel has declared its F-35I to be combat operational.

Two Dutch F-35s did a flyover in Star Wars canyon.

Drag chute deployment tests are underway in Alaska for the Dutch and Norwegian F-35s.

The Netherlands might have problems paying for their last three F-35As due to currency exchange rates.

Counter Stealth:

China is attempting to build a satellite based imaging system that can detect stealth aircraft.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A/2017 U1 "Oumuamua:" More on our Interstellar Visitor

Systematic takes another look at the strange visitor.

Scientists are dazzled by our interstellar visitor.

The visitor is definitely weird.

Is Oumuamua really interstellar in nature?

Where did Oumuamua come from?  The Local Association?  From a binary star system?

What is the origin of Oumuamua?

How does Oumuamua compare to objects from our solar system?

What are the implications for planet and planetesimal formation?

Observations of Oumuamua by the NOT and WIYN telescopes.

Oumuamua is tumbling.

Is Oumuamua really macroscopic dark matter?  Really???

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Will Venezuela Launch First Hyperinflating? or Oil-Backed? Cryptocurrency, the Petro?

President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that Venezuela will launch a cryptocurrency to combat what the leftist leader says is a financial “blockade” against the crisis-hit nation spurred by U.S. sanctions.

Maduro said the OPEC member’s new currency, “petro,” will be backed by natural resources reserves although he did not provide details on the logistics of its roll-out.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Russian Test the Moscow Missile Defense System

On November 23, 2017 the Air and Space Defense Forces (VKS) conducted a successful test of an interceptor of the Moscow missile defense system. The test took place at the Sary-Shagan test site. The launch was conducted by the crews of the VKS air and missile defense army.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Paleolithic Papers #17

Genus Homo:

The brains of modern humans are different than other primates in particular ways.

Modern Humans (H. sapiens):

Ancient DNA from South Africa pushes back the origins of modern humans.

How did ancient humans organize themselves?  Check their genomes.

Did the first Americans come via the Kelp Highway?  More evidence.

Ancient mitochondrial DNA studies have shown three different groups swept into Labrador and Newfoundland at different times.

Hobbits (H. floresiensis):

How the Hobbit, LB1, was found.

Did Hobbits eat rats?


John Hawks disagrees when the Denisovans and Neandertals split.

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

New wrist bones from the Neandertals of El Sidron, Spain have been found and studied.

The Mousterian Neandertals of China are discussed.

A high coverage DNA Neandertal genome has been recovered from Vindijia, Croatia.

The interbreeding between modern humans and Neandertals reintroduced older, lost DNA from ancient, older hominins to the modern human genome.

The interaction between Neandertals and modern humans has been modeled.

A paper suggested modern humans replaced Neandertals through immigration.  A response has been posted.

H. heidelbergensis:

Did the sinuses of H. heidelbergensis have a special role or placement

H. naledi:

Reviewing the September excavations at the Rising Star Caves.

An H. naledi pelvis is examined and found to have characteristics of Homo and Australopithecus pelvises.

Genus Paranthropus:

P. robustus:

Isotopic analysis of P robustus teeth show the environments and even movements of individuals lived in.


Crocodiles may make similar marks on bones when feeding like those interpreted to be done by stone tools and flakes used for butchery by hominins.

The jaws of hominins and their variation give important clues as to whether or not they belong to a specific species.

There are deep concerns some of the fossils from Europe of hominins were stolen and used in a study.  Even the journal has grown concerned.

Stone tools from late Oldowon from the Olduvai are investigated with new digs.

Pounding tools from the Oldowon to Acheulen transition are examined as well.

Friday, December 01, 2017

SpaceX Will Seek US Government Money for the BFR/BFS Rocket

The president of SpaceX said she expects the company would receive additional funding from the U.S. government to support the development of its large reusable launch system.

Speaking at the NewSpace Europe conference here Nov. 16, Gwynne Shotwell noted that SpaceX is already receiving funding from the U.S. Air Force supporting the development of Raptor, the engine that will power the vehicle known as BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket, and the reusable spacecraft known as BFS or Big Falcon Spaceship.

“I do anticipate that there is residual capability of that system that the government will be interested in,” she said. “I do see that we would likely get some funding from the government for BFR and BFS.” She added, though, that work on the vehicles was not contingent on receiving government funding.

One avenue for doing so would be through the U.S. Air Force’s Launch Services Agreement competition, which plans to provide several awards to companies to help fund development of prototype launch systems, though initial test flights, to end U.S. reliance on the Atlas 5 and its Russian-manufactured RD-180 engine. Proposals for the competition are due to the Air Force Nov. 20.